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Vital information about your safe deposit box

The “safe” in safe deposit box may not be as safe as you think. Do you know the rules on these boxes?

You have a safe deposit box with a bank. This has the appearance of being safe. However, what happens when you have not been to the box in years? What about if you were to die unexpectedly? Are your possessions really protected?

So how can you protect yourself and your possessions if you have a safe deposit box? Consider taking the following actions:

  • Call your bank. If you don’t remember paying a safe deposit fee recently, ask your bank if your box is free. If not, stop by the branch, make sure your box is still there and pay the bill. If possible, set up an automatic payment so the fee is deducted each year from your checking account.


  • Visit your box. At least once a year, open the box and inspect its contents. Then make sure the bank has the correct address on file for you.


  • Tell your heirs. Ideally, you’ll mention the box in your will. Also do not store your will in the box since safe deposit boxes may be sealed at death. Minimally, let a trusted friend or relative know about the box’s existence.


  • If you suspect you may have abandoned a safe deposit box in the past, or are the heir of someone who may have done so, you’ll want to search www.CashUnclaimed.com.

    The heirlooms may be gone, but you may be able to reclaim at least some of their dollar value. State unclaimed property offices are required to hold auction proceeds indefinitely, in case the original owners or their heirs ever step forward.

    That sometimes happens, even decades after the boxes were turned over to the state. Unclaimed property offices returned $875 million to owners or heirs last year, an amount that includes everything from safe deposit box contents to unclaimed paychecks to utility deposit refunds

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